You were always leaving home of course. It is just that I did not realise it until the big departure happened on Monday. Now you have gone and are living overseas, so many memories from your childhood keep invading my mind. I cry a little but not too much. I left home at the same age. This is entirely normal. I was just a little not ready for it. I imagine that too is normal for us empty nesters.
Rolling back in time, I remember living opposite a primary school and thinking how lovely it would be to have my own child. I thought school runs would be fun. Deluded! As on so many parenting realities. It took us about 6 weeks to conceive and that was not quick enough for me! I sulked when a period turned up. Just the one and at the time I did not realise how blessed I was to be so very fertile.
You are my first child, your Dad’s first son and your grandma and granddad’s first grandchild. That made you special from the start but then you were you and that is really magical. You are handsome, super bright, sensitive, caring with the best of values and a deep desire to improve the world.
There were so many challenges I was not prepared for. There were concerns about your eye when you were born. The took a swab and I spent days worrying. You woke up and cried when I had my first fish and chips on bringing you home from the hospital – that is when I really worked out I was going to have to play second fiddle for at least a while.
You were always leaving home when I think about it now. I remember asking my parents to look after you about a month after you were born so I could go Christmas shopping. I spent the entire time in a shopping centre convinced they would not manage or you would die. I had arranged to start a new job about 7 weeks after your birth so all too quickly I was handing you over to my parents for them to look after you. You know that they did the most brilliant job. You are very much their legacy and they would be so very proud.
Then came your Montessori nursery. I remember you not wanting me to leave one day and having to make that trip that we all have to do at some point where staff are telling us to go, our child wants us to stay and our hearts break a little. Of course, you return at the end of the day and all is well. “He will be fine” they said. Expert mums who have let their offspring fly are telling me the same thing now. The worry does not change. My mum told me as they get older, the problems just become bigger.
Your Dad organised your entrance to your first school and I felt left out. I did the school runs usually. When you went to secondary school, it felt like child neglect to let you walk the 10 minutes it took for you to get to school. It feels like child neglect now that I have sent you to live with my brother overseas. I know he will do a fantastic job and has already proven that in the last 5 days but still I feel I should be doing more.
You know I wish I could have done better for you financially. I also wish mental health struggles of mine had not impacted on you. I guess all these experiences make us the people we are in the end. They keep telling me you will be fine.
You are like me in that you were not the child to go on many play dates or sleep overs. In fact I only recall you going away once without family members. That was a caravan holiday for a few days with a friend. I felt letting you go was child neglect. How does a parent decide who can be trusted? Sometimes we really do just follow our instincts, take a risk and hope for the best.
I have no idea how my parents managed to let me go to university and Cambridge at that. It was so outside their knowledge and experience. How generous of them to let me go. I feel fortunate that you are going to a safe family member as you leave me for what may be the final time.
You were so like me as you were leaving home. Not saying an awful lot. Putting on a brave face. Thanks for the hug which I had to ask for. I understand why. I held it together when my parents left me at college intending to go to my room and cry. Then Grandma came back with half a pork pie for my tea. At that point, I lost it. You left on a jet place. I don’t know when or if you will be back again. But I do know you will be absolutely fine and whether you are or not, I will be right her in your corner, a flawed mum but a loving one all the same.
Thanks so much for letting me by your Mum and here’s to a new chapter for the pair of us.
How did my readers act when they were leaving home?